Te Ururoa Flavell’s Gambling (Gambling Harm reduction) Amendment Bill should be going through some of its latter stages in the House this week. Sadly the Green Party is no longer supporting this legislation due to some pretty massive changes that were made at the select committee stage.
The aims of the original bill to give communities the power to cut the number of pokie machines in their area, or eliminate them altogether, were gutted during this process.
Another significant area that was changed concerned provisions to prevent gambling funds being utilised by the racing industry – especially as stake money. The original Bill aimed to stop the crazy situation where pokie addiction was funding another form of gambling! Sadly this provision was also gutted at the select committee stage.
Pokie money should not be used to fund the racing industry. That is why the Green Party has drafted a supplementary order paper (SOP) that if successful would honour the original intent of Te Ururoa’s Bill to stop this happening.
I’m hoping Labour MPs will be supporting this SOP. The changes to our gambling laws that allowed this to happen occurred under Labour in the early 2000s. It will also be interesting to see how New Zealand First MPs vote given Winston Peters tenure as a former Minister Responsible for the horse racing industry and comments supporting the status quo.
Labour themselves have been busy organising some interesting supplementary order papers. Trevor Mallard makes the interesting point that gambling law should be aligned with the sale of liquor laws. If Trevor’s SOP was successful then SkyCity and other casinos would be forced to close down for a few hours a day rather than running 24/7.